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As I sit in a reflective mood approaching the Third Sunday of Easter, this Psalm serves as a reminder of comfort and hope during a time that has been less than peaceful and one that could stretch any pastor, or I should say any person to their limits emotionally, physically and spiritually. In both personal life and in the life of my church congregation there have been instances of the glaring reality of human frailty in matters of health, tight finances, unpredictable circumstances and relationships that have been damaged and yet to be restored to name only a few examples. Sure, these instances are almost always present and offer what feel like little or no escape; there are even times where we can live in expectation of maybe one or two of them occurring simultaneously and then there are times where life completely erupts and there is despair.

Yet, worship in the Easter Season centers around the reminder for believers of the constant victory over sin and death through Christ's Resurrection. There is a reason to be grateful for the journeyed celebration of the Easter season and that it is more than just one Sunday- The Body of Christ needs to be reminded of the Risen Lord we serve often more than not- our lives and our prayers depend on this solid constant when life challenges us (and believe me, none of us are immune from life's challenges nor can we predict when they will occur.)

Psalm 30 possesses a unique background as it is ascribed to the Dedication of The Temple (habbayit- House of Yahweh) and is also a Psalm of David. Uncertainties of this Psalm revolve around the idea that David neither built nor dedicated a temple in his lifetime so the idea that this Psalm is presented in corporate worship at the Dedication of the temple first opens the concept for readers to think of this Psalm as an individual original composition. Commentator David L. Thompson references this in the New Beacon Bible Commentary: "Most likely we should think of a song composed for individual praise later pressed into service at the dedication of Yahweh's temple because of its forceful beauty. Whether it was first associated with the dedication of Solomon's Temple, with the second temple after the exile, or with the rededication following the desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes, and used thereafter in celebration of that dedication we do not know." (pp. 160-161)

This beautiful prayer reflects thankful remembrance and acknowledged dependence on both individual and corporate levels of worship.

From the very beginning of this Psalm worshippers are encouraged to Extol (Praise Enthusiastically) the God who has lifted! The very heart and nature of a prayer beginning with Enthusiastic Praise is not only a symphony of harmonious melodies to God's ears but also a reminder for those praying to give God glory where it is undoubtedly due. It is tempting to approach God with the un-ending to-do list of requests, needs and wants yet this approach of Enthusiastic Praise provides a level of reflection in the life of those who pray to remember exactly what it is God has done over and over and over again- lest it is not forgotten.

When the cry of help is made to the Lord and there is healing it is a time of honest confession. If anyone was honest in prayer, David possessed that trait. Psalms are meant to encourage prayers of honest confession and emotion. Whatever flaw, shortcoming or sin may weigh a person down, the example given through the book of Psalms indicates there is power, comfort and resolve through honest prayer. Our sins have sucked the life, energy and joy out of us when unacknowledged and we have dwelt in some dark places where shame, guilt, consequences, neglect, and fear haunt us as a result. We as humans are experts in placing ourselves in pits through our sinful actions. It's the getting out of those pits we are not always good at accomplishing and we simply cannot rise up on our own. Through all the sin, darkness and life-draining moments our real, honest and upfront prayers are reconciled though the acknowledgement of God's mercy and forgiveness which produces great joy in our lives.

This Psalm reflects the redemptive nature of God in that God's emotions may be directed towards anger for a moment, yet the love and mercy of God is available in abundance and our sins of the past do not reflect God's very faithfulness and favor in our lives for the future. God still finds ways to bless us and make His greatness evident in our lives even in times where we don't think we deserve it. Whether our circumstance is self-inflicted through sin or disobedience or it is a circumstance of living in a fallen world beyond our personal control, we are not exempt from weeping and sorrow in this life. Yet in this Psalm we see again God's great faithfulness and love because "the shout of Joy" comes in the morning- our situation is not permanent and we can think and live in Victory.

David mentions self-sufficiency in this prayer and the negative effects of it as a distancing factor from God. This is a great reminder in the individual and corporate prayer life of the church as our culture places self-sufficiency on a shiny, diamond studded platinum pedestal. Sure, this pedestal of self-sufficiency appears to be strong, shiny and pretty to the average eye but the consequences of self- sufficiency as a distancing agent from God can take a toll on the life of the believer and the church. We are created to depend on God and to actively seek and communicate with Him and with one another in seeking direction and answers for the things we pray. Through acknowledging our dependency on God we are placed in a humble posture to praise Him for all that we have come through.

This Psalm is beautifully honest because there is room to acknowledge pain. So often times it is the human condition to avoid pain- don’t think about it, don't feel it, and don’t even mention it, yet there is safety in this space of the Psalm where pain on individual or corporate level can be considered and confessed. Perhaps this could be done in a corporate service where small groups gather together and reflect over this Psalm and the prayer is over the experiences and concerns the group has felt and acknowledged. Perhaps this is a time where an individual journals their pain in private and reflects in prayer- either way, the acknowledgement of pain is powerful and transformational.

In the midst of the celebration of Easter, we see an opportunity for resurrection in our own lives through this prayer. As Jesus journeyed towards the cross and endured suffering, victory ultimately came through His resurrection from the grave. There are undoubtedly "grave" areas in our lives that cause us pain or have dried us up- but we get to take off those nasty sack cloths and bust a move! We get to dance like no one is watching because God's grace, mercy and love have set us free and sustains us as we continue in the celebration of a Risen Lord. We remember this power, we live in this power and we depend on this power of the Risen Lord to continually guide us in our Journey of redemption and resurrection.

Happy Easter! He Is Risen, Indeed! Hallelujah!

Sources Used:

Thompson, David L. New Beacon Bible Commentary Psalms 1-72

Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2015.